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Photo of the first post office in Gunnison, Why you should Visit the Gunnison Pioneer Museum
Photo of the first post office in Gunnison, courtesy of the Gunnison Pioneer Museum

The Gunnison Pioneer Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of Gunnison Country and the Old West. Gunnison’s history holds perhaps some of the most incredible pioneer stories within the state. Cattlemen crossed the treacherous continental divide to settle in the Gunnison valley, and they brought cowboy culture—which is still alive and well today—to Western Colorado.

If you are looking for an activity to enrich your understanding of pioneer history in Western Colorado, look no further than the pioneer museum! The museum property contains 35 buildings plus outdoor displays, all of which tell the unique stories of Gunnison Country’s great pioneers. For the 2024 season, which happens to be their 60th season in operation, their doors will open on May 15th. They will be welcoming guests daily from 9am-5pm through September 30th.

Photo of the first ranch in Gunnison for blog on Why you should Visit the Gunnison Pioneer Museum
Photo of the first ranch in Gunnison – Dos Rios Ranch, run by Alonzo Hartman

Meet Characters from Gunnison’s Past

One character you are sure to meet from Gunnison’s history during your visit to the museum is Alonzo Hartman. You have likely seen the Hartman name around Gunnison, including on signs for the famous Hartman Rocks Recreation Area. Once you know his story, the popularity of the name in this area makes perfect sense. In fact, Hartman was one of the founders of Gunnison and the first post master to run a mail route in the area. You can even see the first log postoffice out of which he operated at the museum. As a cattleman, he and his wife Annie ran the Dos Rios Ranch, where they eventually built a family home that has come to be known as the Hartman Castle.

Photo of the Hartman Castle at Dos Rios Ranch outside of Gunnison, CO

Hartman and his siblings were also a descendants of the famous pioneer Danielle Boone. Alonzo’s brother Sam Hartman, has been named among the “Kings of Cow Country,” for his role in developing a thriving cattle industry in the Montrose area. Needless to say, the Hartman name is a big deal here in Gunnison Country and beyond, and the Gunnison Pioneer Museum is a great place to learn about these important characters in Western Colorado’s history.

It is through their experiences that we have now have modern Gunnison Country and all of the activities we love to engage in when we visit the area. Be sure to visit and support the Gunnison Pioneer Museum so you can truly appreciate and respect the historical legacy of Gunnison’s original settlers!